Category : –Wales

R S Thomas “The Answer” for Easter

From there:

Not darkness but twilight
In which even the best
of minds must make its way
now. And slowly the questions
occur, vague but formidable
for all that. We pass our hands
over their surface like blind
men feeling for the mechanism
that will swing them aside. They
yield, but only to re-form
as new problems; and one
does not even do that
but towers immovable
before us.

Is there no way
of other thought of answering
its challenge? There is an anticipation
of it to the point of
dying. There have been times
when, after long on my knees
in a cold chancel, a stone has rolled
from my mind, and I have looked
in and seen the old questions lie
folded and in a place
by themselves, like the piled
graveclothes of love’s risen body.

Posted in --Wales, Easter, Poetry & Literature

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint David of Wales

Almighty God, who didst call thy servant David to be a faithful and wise steward of thy mysteries for the people of Wales: Mercifully grant that, following his purity of life and zeal for the gospel of Christ, we may with him receive the crown of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.

Posted in --Wales, Church History

Wednesday Food for Thought–Tim Keller on the Holy Spirit as our Second Advocate and a story from the 18th century Welsh Church

” … your defense lawyer may have hard and challenging things to say to you, yet always in order to help you case and cause. And he or she does not merely speak to you – but also speaks to the powers that be for you. This is why the translations of John 14:16-20; 25-27 that call the Holy Spirit the Advocate are also, I believe, on the right track. That’s how God’s Spirit is defined, or described, in the word Jesus uses to talk about him. But we must notice also that Jesus calls the Spirit another Advocate or counselor. Who, then, is the first Advocate? The only other place in the New Testament where the word paraklete is used is in 1 John 2:1-2: ‘If anyone does sin, we have an advocate (paraklete) with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ So Jesus is the first Advocate, and the Spirit is the second. And I want you to know that in this word – advocate, counselor – we have the key to understanding not only Jesus’ work on the cross but also the Spirit’s work in our hearts. Indeed, I’d argue that unless you know that Jesus was the first Advocate, you won’t understand the work of the Holy Spirit as the second Advocate at all….”

“The first Advocate is speaking to God for you, but the second Advocate is speaking to you for you. Throughout the Farewell Discourse, Jesus keeps saying that the job of the Spirit is to take all the things Jesus has done on our behalf – all the things that the apostles had still not yet grasped – and to ‘teach you’ and ‘remind you’ and enable the apostles to finally understand all that Jesus had taught them about his saving work (John 14:26).”

“I love the fact that the Holy Spirit is not merely an instructor, but an Advocate. Though he is ‘the Spirit of truth,’ he does not merely teach and inform us; he calls us to live according to what he is telling us. He convicts us and challenges us (John 16:8-11). He says in effect, ‘You are a sinner – are you living with the humility and dependence on God that results from that fact? Yet you are also righteous in Christ – adopted and accepted into the family. Are you living with the boldness and freedom that should accord with that fact? Are you as free from the need for worldly power and approval and comfort as you should be?’ He argues with us, he exhorts, beseeches, and entreats us (all good translations of parakleo), to live lives in accordance with the accomplishments and realities of Christ’s love. And this is why Jesus says that through the Holy Spirit he will finally ‘show’ himself to his friends (John 14:21). They will finally see him and know his loving presence. … it’s natural for us to believe that it would have been better to have lived during the time of Christ and to have actually met him and heard him with our ears and seen him with our eyes. You might believe that you could know him better that way than you do now – but you would be wrong. Before he died, the Holy Spirit had not been released into the world in this powerful way, and you can only know Jesus fully through the Spirit’s influence, as he shows you in the shadow of the cross how high and long and wide and deep his love is for us. In other words, right here and now, through the Holy Spirit, you can see Christ and know his presence and his love better than the apostles could in that moment in the upper room.”

“This week, somebody criticized you. Something you bought or invested in turned out to be less valuable than you thought. Something you wanted to happen didn’t go the way you wanted it to. Someone you counted on let you down. These are real losses – of your reputation, of your material wealth, of your hopes. But what are you going to do, if you’re a Christian? Will this setback disrupt your contentment with life? Will you shake your fist at God? Toss and turn at night? If so, I submit that it’s because you don’t know how truly rich you are. You are not listening to the second Advocate about your first Advocate. You are not living in joy. You are forgetting that the only eyes in the universe that matter see you not as the ‘phony little fake’ you have sometimes been, but as a person of captivating beauty. If you’re that upset about your status with other people, if you’re constantly lashing out at people for hurting your feelings, you might call it a lack of self-control or a lack of self-esteem, and it is. But more fundamentally, you have totally lost touch with your identity. As a Christian, you’re a spiritual billionaire and you’re wringing your hands over ten dollars. It’s the job of the second Advocate to argue with you in the court of your heart, to make the case about who you are in Christ, to show you that you’re rich. And it’s your job to listen. How can you listen better? That’s a big subject, but if you are a believer, then the Holy Spirit will do his work as you use the ‘means of grace’ – reading and studying the Word by yourself and in community, prayer, worship, and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper….” 

“I once heard a story of an eighteenth-century Welsh preacher who, when he was just a teenager, was standing with his family around the deathbed of one of his aunts. His aunt had been a strong Christian, but she was slipping away. Everyone thought she was unconscious and some said out loud, ‘It’s a shame; she’s had such a hard life. She’s seen two husbands die, and she’s often been sick, and on top of it all she has died poor.’ Suddenly she opened her eyes, looked around, and said, ‘Who calls me poor? I am rich, rich! And I will soon stand before Him bold as a lion.’ And then she died. Understandably, that had quite an effect on the young man. This woman had the peace that Jesus spoke of because she had listened to the Advocate. She was saying, ‘I’ve got the only husband who can’t die. I’ve got the only wealth that can never go away. And my Savior dealt long ago with sin – the only disease that can really and truly kill me. How can you call me poor?’ The second Advocate had told her about the first Advocate, so she could say in the face of great loss, as the hymn writer did, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.'”

–Timothy Keller, Encounters with Jesus (New York: Penguin Books, 2013), pp.34-147, quoted by yours truly in this past Sunday’s sermon

Posted in --Wales, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

(Church Times) Church in Wales issues draft Bill on same-sex blessings

The Bishops of the Church in Wales have published their proposals to authorise formal blessings in church of same-sex partnerships and marriages.

A draft Bill that would permit the blessing in parish churches of same-sex couples after a civil partnership or civil wedding has been circulated to members of the Church’s Governing Body ahead of a debate in April.

In an explanatory memorandum, the Bishops acknowledge that scripture and Christian tradition have previously understood unions of one man and one woman as the only context for sexual relationships.

“However, with new social, scientific and psychological understandings of sexuality in the last one and a half centuries, we believe that same-sex relationships can be understood in a radically different way, and that the teaching of Scripture should therefore be re-interrogated,” the Bishops write.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Wales, Anthropology, Church of Wales, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(Mirror) Abortion rates hit record levels as parents worry about cost of bringing up children

Abortion rates have hit a record high in England and Wales as parents are becoming more conscious of the costs of bringing up a child.

Office for National Statistics figures show 24% of females who fell pregnant in 2018 chose a termination.

Up from 22.7% the previous year, it was the highest percentage since records began 30 years ago.

Abortion care charity BPAS suggests financial concerns are putting women off. Clare Murphy, director of external affairs, said: “We’ve seen an increasingly cautious approach, likely to be driven by factors from the two-child limit to Brexit .”

The Government’s policy of limiting welfare benefits to two children prevents parents from seeking extra funding for a third child, if born after April 2017.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Wales, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics

(NYT) ‘Keeping Faith’ Is a Hit in Two Languages

“Keeping Faith” offered everything the Welsh actor Eve Myles had been waiting for: An unflinching leading lady. A richly layered mystery showcasing her magical homeland. A role so different from anything she’d previously done that it was almost frightening.

And yet she turned it down repeatedly, uncertain that she could dig deep enough into the character — let alone in more than one language.

Developed by the Welsh-language channel S4C and co-produced by BBC Wales and Acorn Media Enterprises, “Keeping Faith” was designed to be shot in two versions: One in English and the other (titled “Un Bore Mercher,” meaning “One Wednesday Morning”) in Welsh, which Myles, like so many natives of Wales, didn’t actually speak.

But in the end, her fear of regretting passing on the job outweighed her fear of actually doing it.

“I had to take a deep breath and go, O.K., if you’re going for it, don’t do a mediocre job,” Myles recalled recently. “If you’re going to do it, smash the [expletive] out of it.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Wales, England / UK, Entertainment, Movies & Television

Happy Boxing Day to all Blog Readers!

Posted in --Ireland, --Scotland, --Wales, Australia / NZ, Blogging & the Internet, Canada, Christmas, England / UK

(BBC) In England and Wales A man and a woman can now choose a civil partnership rather than Marriage

Heterosexual couples in England and Wales will be able to choose to have a civil partnership rather than get married, Theresa May has announced.

The government says the move will provide greater security for unmarried couples and their families.

And it will address the “imbalance” that allows same-sex couples to enter a civil partnership or get married – a choice denied to heterosexual couples.

The current system was found in June to be in breach of European law.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Wales, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Theology, Women

(Wales Online) The remote Welsh chapel where there’s only one worshipper left

As you walk into Evan Thomas Jones’s farmhouse you are hit with a scorching dry heat and the smell of burning wood coming from the old Rayburn stove in the small cluttered kitchen.

Perched on the edge of a hill, the farmhouse is exposed to the cutting wind that blows over the Brecon Beacons and the warmth inside is delightful. Out of the window you can see the peaks of Pen y Fan and Corn Du disappearing into cloud and still coated with the early spring snow. If this was a hotel, tourists would pay a premium for these views.

But the man looking out the window is anything but a tourist. Standing straight and strong at about five foot eight, 85-year-old Evan wears green wellies, jeans and a jacket. From the window he points out the details of a valley where his family have lived for hundreds of years.

Read it all.

Posted in --Wales, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Archbishop of Wales: Better services must come from ‘people’s pockets’

The Church in Wales may have to argue that better public services require people to pay “a bit more tax”, the Archbishop of Wales has said.

The Most Rev John Davies warned there were “dwindling services” and a “disintegration of communities”.

Read it all.

Posted in --Wales, Church of Wales, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Taxes

(BBC) Wales’ burial space running out, warns Church

Wales could soon run out of space to bury its dead, the Church in Wales has warned.

A number of cemeteries have run out of plots, with some closed to new burials, while others have just years left until they are full.

Alex Glanville, from the Church in Wales, said people could no longer take for granted that they would be buried in their communities.

On Thursday, Cardiff council’s cabinet agreed to spend £3m on a new cemetery.

Councillors approved plans for a new 12.5 acre cemetery about 650 metres from the existing Thornhill Cemetery.

The authority said it would provide burial space for the next 35-40 years.

Read it all.

Posted in --Wales, Church of Wales, Death / Burial / Funerals, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

([London] Sunday Times) Isis uses companies in Wales to finance terrorist attacks against the West

Isis used a network of companies operating out of an office in Cardiff to ship military-grade equipment to Spain and to finance terror plots against the West, FBI documents seen by The Sunday Times disclose.

The surveillance technology dispatched to Spain — where 14 people were killed last week in the latest Isis-inspired atrocities — is understood to be linked to the development by the terrorist group of weaponised drones. The FBI says it was capable of identifying “target locations”.

An affiliated firm was used to transfer thousands of pounds in cash to an American extremist in Maryland who later told how he dreamt of carrying out a gun massacre in a church.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in --Wales, Economy, Terrorism

(Bloomberg) Champions League Final Police to Scan Soccer Fans’ Faces

Security at this year’s Champions League final will be aided by facial recognition technology.

Police will be able to match soccer fans’ faces against a database of known offenders in real-time, according to a contract worth 170,000 pounds ($210,000) posted on the U.K. government’s website.

“The UEFA Champions League finals in Cardiff give us a unique opportunity to test and prove the concept of this technology in a live operational environment,” South Wales Police Chief Superintendent Jon Edwards said in an emailed statement, adding that it should provide a basis for further use of the technology by police.

Read it all.

Posted in --Wales, Police/Fire, Sports, Terrorism